Starting or Taking over an Existing Business? The Three Most Important Things I Learned in My First Year

by Dr. Sara Griffin, owner of WNY Spinal Solutions

Let me start by saying that by no means do I consider myself a business guru. I began in the chiropractic field with the idea I would work for 3-5 years under someone older and wiser, glean every little bit of knowledge I could and then have my own successful practice. As fate would have it, this isn’t what happened at all! A year and a half in as an associate in 15-year-old practice, my boss decided to move. He proposed I take over the practice, which included 2 locations and 3 other employees. Fast forward 6 months, there was the creation of my new corporation, dissolution of the old, keys changed and approximately 10,000 insurance/bank/lease/utility signatures later, and I was now effectively the boss of all the people I had once been co-workers with.


  • I was terrified. To be fair, probably rightfully so. I was the youngest employee in the office and these people were my friends! However, I allowed my fear to make me “easy going”. Being understanding and being a push-over is different. Every team needs a leader. They need someone confident in her vision and mission for the company. They need someone who is willing to do every task in the office; whether it’s taking out the garbage, cleaning the toilets or staying late for the last customer. BUT that same leader also needs to then recognize the value of her time and trust her team enough to delegate office tasks properly.

Live and act from a place of confidence and clarity in your value and your team’s capabilities.


  • About six months in, I was drowning! The team was unhappy, even I disliked coming to work. I was constantly on edge and my work that I needed to do was not getting done. So, I swallowed my pride and hired a business coach. We worked on developing confidence, realizing my passion for service, recognizing the types of people I needed to surround myself with to allow my vision for my company to materialize and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. What did it cost? WHO KNOWS, WHO CARES! Probably more than I wanted to spend at the time (see mistake one: fear) but in the long run, worth more than I ever paid him.

Elevate yourself as a leader by opening up to someone who knows your business and who you respond well to. Growth is not always easy, but having an outside source evaluate your weaknesses and build your strengths is worth it!

Check out Dr. Sara’s Podcast Interview


  • What do you want? How will success look? What time/money/life sacrifices do you need to make? What are the action steps? Who is your team? What is the time span?
  • These are just examples of questions. Each business, profession, start-up, turnover, has different ones. But every business requires clarity of vision!
  •  EVERY DAY, I WAKE UP AND THINK ABOUT WHERE I AM GOING. Every morning when I make my to do list, (pulled from my week’s tasksà from my month’s calendarà from my yearly overviewàyou see where I am going….) I prioritize the actions that will get me most effectively to my end goals. I see my future clearly; I speak about it freely and without fear. Will it materialize exactly as I imagined it the first day I became a chiropractor? No, obviously it has already changed. But every second I spend visualizing and clarifying, the easier my day to day decisions become. Will my current course of action take us to our end game vision? If not: delegate, change, or remove that action. To be a leader requires confidence, clarity and efficiency. But being a business owner requires the willingness to do what needs to be done, supporting your team and engaging in the endless pursuit of self-betterment for the good of the vision, mission and values of the company.

Take time every day to clarify why you’re doing what you’re doing and act accordingly.

To learn more about Dr. Sara Griffin’s journey or contact her regarding questions, listen to her episode on the WNY Entrepreneur’s podcast or email

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